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Offense, Violation, Infraction, Crime Definitions

§ 53a-24. Offense defined. Application of sentencing provisions to motor vehicle and drug selling violators

(a) The term “offense” encompasses any crime or violation constituting a breach of state, federal, or local laws, for which imprisonment, a fine, or both, may be imposed, excluding motor vehicle violations or infractions. The term “crime” includes felonies and misdemeanors. Violations, as distinct from crimes, are not subject to disabilities or legal disadvantages based on criminal offense convictions.

(b) Sections 53a-28 to 53a-44 apply to motor vehicle violations. These provisions extend to convictions under section 21a-278, with the exception that the execution of mandatory minimum sentences under section 21a-278 cannot be suspended.

Editors’ Notes: Commission Comment—1971

Subsec. (a): This section clarifies the terms “offense,” “crime,” and “violation.” It introduces the concept of a “violation,” denoting an offense subject only to fines, without branding the offender as a criminal. Conviction of a violation does not lead to disabilities associated with criminal offenses.

Subsec. (b): While motor vehicle infractions are excluded from the definition of “offense” in subsection (a), subsection (b) ensures that sentencing principles under sections 53a-28 to 53a-44 apply to motor vehicle violations, aligning with the procedures of these sections.

Credits: 1969, P.A. 828, § 24, eff. Oct. 1, 1971; 1972, P.A. 294, § 39; 1975, P.A. 75-380, § 15; 1975, P.A. 75-577, § 8, eff. Nov. 1, 1975; 1992, P.A. 92-260, § 8.

Certain infractions not deemed to be offenses within the meaning of this section, see C.G.S.A. § 51-164n.

Connecticut General Statutes Annotated (C.G.S.A.) § 51-164n. The outline of the statute is as follows:

§ 51-164n. Procedure upon summons for infraction or certain violations. Payment by mail. Procedure at trial

(a) Establishes a Centralized Infractions Bureau for handling payments or pleas of not guilty for infractions or certain violations. Individuals alleged to have committed an infraction or violation may plead not guilty or pay the established fine and any additional fees.

(b) Outlines violations falling under this section, including various statutory and regulatory violations. Provides procedures for handling violations, particularly those exceeding ninety dollars but not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars, unless the municipality has its own payment and hearing procedure.

(c) Allows individuals to pay fines by mail, considering it a plea of nolo contendere, which is not admissible to establish conduct in civil or criminal proceedings. Exempts administrative sanctions by certain state departments but ensures no points are assessed for motor vehicle infractions.

(d) If an individual pleads not guilty, the plea is sent to the Centralized Infractions Bureau, which forwards it to the appropriate clerk for a hearing date.

(e) Specifies that a summons for an infraction or violation is not an arrest, and such offenses are not deemed offenses under § 53a-24.

(f) Extends the application of this section to minors, requiring a parent or guardian to sign any plea on behalf of a minor.

(g) Allows individuals who initially plead not guilty to later agree with the prosecutor on the fine amount and pay it without appearing before a judicial authority. This agreement may include attending a motor vehicle operator safety course.

(h) Applies criminal trial procedures to infraction trials. Specifies fines for infractions and violations of title 14.

(i) Applies criminal trial procedures to violations specified in subsection (b), with a preponderance of evidence as the burden of proof for section 21a-279a violations. Specifies fines for violations.

The full statute C.G.S.A. Sec. 51-164n is as follows:

§ 51-164n. Procedure upon summons for infraction or certain violations. Payment by mail. Procedure at trial

Currentness

(a) There shall be a Centralized Infractions Bureau of the Superior Court to handle payments or pleas of not guilty with respect to the commission of an infraction under any provision of the general statutes or a violation set forth in subsection (b) of this section. Except as provided in section 51-164o, any person who is alleged to have committed an infraction or a violation under subsection (b) of this section may plead not guilty or pay the established fine and any additional fee or cost for the infraction or such violation.

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, any person who is alleged to have committed (1) a violation under the provisions of 1-10, 2-71h, 7-13, 7-35 or 7-41, subsection (c) of section 7-83, 7-148, 7-325, 8-12, 8-27, 9-322, 10-185, 10-197, 10-230, 10-254, 12-52, 12-129b or subsection (e) of section 12-286, 12-292, 12-326g, subdivision (4) of subdivision (3), (5) or (6) of section 12-411, 12-476a, 12-476c, or section 13a-71, 13a-113, 13a-115, 13a-123, 13a-139, 13a-143b, 13a-263 or 13b-39f, subsection (f) of section 13b-90 or 13b-100, subsection (a) of section 13b-221 or 13b-292, subsection (a) or (b) of section 13b-336, 13b-338, 13b-410b or 13b-410c, subsection (a), (b) or (c) of section 13b-414 or subsection (a) of section 14-12, subsection (d) of section 14-12a, subsection (a) of section 14-16c, section 14-34a, subsection (d) of section 14-43, 14-49, 14-58 or 14-62a, subsection (b) of section 14-66a or 14-67a, subsection (g) of section 14-80h, section 14-100a, 14-103a, 14-106c, 14-146, 14-153, section 14-164i, 14-219, subdivision (1) of section 14-224, 14-250, 14-261a, 14-264, 14-267a, 14-270, 14-274, section 14-275c, section 14-276, subsection (a) or (b) of section 14-278, section 14-283, 14-283e, 14-283g, 14-293b, 14-298a, 14-300d, 14-319, 14-321, 14-326, 14-332a, subdivision (1), (2) or (3) of section 15-15e, 15-33, subdivision (1) of section 15-115, 16-16, 16-256e, section 16a-21, section 16a-22, subsection (a) or (b) of section 16a-106, 17a-145, section 17a-227, section 17a-465, subsection (c) of section 17b-124, 17b-137, 19a-39 or 19a-87, subsection (b) of section 19a-91, 19a-102b, 19a-107, 19a-215, 19a-219, 19a-224, 19a-287, 19a-301, 19a-335, 19a-338, 19a-340, 19a-442, 19a-565, 20-14, 20-158, 20-233, 20-257, 20-324e, section 20-334, 20-366, 20-597, 20-610, 21-1, 21-39, 21-47, section 21-71, section 21a-2, section 21a-20 or subsection (b) of section 21a-25, section 21a-37, 21a-61, 21a-70b or 21a-77, subsection (b) or (c) of section 21a-85 or subsection (a) of section 21a-159, section 21a-278b, subsection (c), (d) or (e) of section 21a-421eee, section 21a-430, 22-13, 22-15, 22-26g, 22-34, 22-36, 22-39, 22-49, 22-61j or section 22-61m, section 22-84, 22-90, 22-98, 22-100 or 22-111o, subsection (d) of section 22-277, section 22-278, 22-280a, 22-320h, , subdivision (1) or (2) of subsection (e) or subsection (g) of section 22-344b, subsection (d) of section 22-344f, 22-354, 22-366, 22-413, 22-415, 22a-66a or 22a-246, subsection (a) of section 22a-256h, section 22a-381e, 22a-450, 23-4b, 23-45, or subdivision (1) of section 25-37 or 25-40, subsection (a) of section 25-43d, 26-18, 26-21, 26-40, 26-42, 26-49, 26-55, 26-58 or subsection (d) of section 26-61, section 26-76, 26-87, 26-91, 26-97, 26-104, 26-107, section 26-127, 26-128a, 26-132, 26-139 or subdivision (1) of section 26-186, 26-215, 26-224a, subdivision (1) of section 26-227, 26-231, 26-244, 26-260, 26-280, 26-285, 26-287, 26-290, 26-292, 27-107, 29-6a, 29-17, 29-143o, section 29-161q, 29-161z, subdivision (1) of section 29-210, section 29-291c, section 29-335asection 29-38130-19f30-48a or 30-86a, subsection (b) of section 30-89, subsection (c) or (d) of section 30-117section 31-331-1031-1131-1231-1331-1431-1531-1631-1831-2331-2431-2531-3231-3631-47 or 31-48, subsection (b) of section 31-48bsection 31-5131-51g31-5231-52a31-53 or 31-54, subsection (a) or (c) of section 31-69section 31-7031-7431-7531-7631-76a31-89b or 31-134, subsection (i) of section 31-273section 31-28831-34833-62433-101734-13d or 34-412, subdivision (1) of section 35-20, subsection (a) of section 36a-57, subsection (b) of section 36a-665section 36a-69936a-73936a-78738a-2 or 38a-140, subsection (a) or (b) of section 38a-278section 38a-479qq38a-479rr38a-50638a-54838a-62638a-68038a-71338a-73338a-76438a-78638a-82838a-82938a-88542-133hh42-23042-470 or 42-480, subsection (a) or (c) of section 43-16qsection 45a-28345a-45045a-634 or 45a-658, subdivision (13) or (14) of section 46a-54section 46a-5946a-81b46b-2246b-2446b-3446b-38d47-34a47-47 or 47-53, subsection (i) of section 47a-21subdivision (1) of subsection (k) of section 47a-21section 49-2a49-8a49-1652-143 or 52-289, subsection (j) of section 52-362section 53-13353-19953-212a53-249a53-25253-26453-28053-290a53-302a53-303e53-311a53-31453-32153-32253-323 or 53-331, subsection (b) of section 53-343a, section 53-344, subsection (b) or (c) of section 53-344b, subsection (b) of section 53-345asection 53-37753-422 or 53-450 or subsection (i) of section 54-36a, or (2) a violation under the provisions of chapter 268,1 or (3) a violation of any regulation adopted in accordance with the provisions of section 12-48412-487 or 13b-410, or (4) a violation of any ordinance, regulation or bylaw of any town, city or borough, except violations of building codes and the health code, for which the penalty exceeds ninety dollars but does not exceed two hundred fifty dollars, unless such town, city or borough has established a payment and hearing procedure for such violation pursuant to section 7-152c, shall follow the procedures set forth in this section.

(c) If any person who is alleged to have committed an infraction or any violation specified in subsection (b) of this section elects to pay the fine and any additional fees or costs established for such infraction or violation, he shall send payment, by mail or otherwise, to the Centralized Infractions Bureau, made payable to the “clerk of the Superior Court”. Such payment shall be considered a plea of nolo contendere and shall be inadmissible in any proceeding, civil or criminal, to establish the conduct of the person, provided the provisions of this section and section 51-164m shall not affect the application of any administrative sanctions by either the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection authorized under title 26 or the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles authorized under title 14, except that no points shall be assessed by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles against the operator’s license of such person for such infraction or violation. The Judicial Department shall provide notice of the provisions of this subsection to law enforcement agencies and direct each law enforcement agency issuing a complaint to provide such notice to any person who is alleged to have committed a motor vehicle infraction or violation at the time a complaint alleging such conduct is issued to such person.

(d) If the person elects to plead not guilty, he shall send the plea of not guilty to the Centralized Infractions Bureau. The bureau shall send such plea and request for trial to the clerk of the geographical area where the trial is to be conducted. Such clerk shall advise such person of a date certain for a hearing.

(e) A summons for the commission of an infraction or of a violation specified in subsection (b) of this section shall not be deemed to be an arrest and the commission of an infraction or of any such violation shall not be deemed to be an offense within the meaning of section 53a-24.

(f) The provisions of this section shall apply to the alleged commission of an infraction or a violation specified in subsection (b) of this section by a minor but, in a case involving a minor, a parent or guardian shall sign any plea of nolo contendere or of not guilty on any summons form issued in connection with the matter.

(g) If a person elects to plead not guilty and send the plea of not guilty to the Centralized Infractions Bureau in accordance with subsection (d) of this section, such person may subsequently, at a proceeding at Superior Court, reach an agreement with the prosecutorial official as to the amount of the fine to be paid and elect to pay such fine without appearing before a judicial authority. As a part of any such agreement, the prosecutorial official may require such person to attend a motor vehicle operator safety course that addresses the nature of such infraction or violation and that is offered or approved by the Chief State’s Attorney. The amount of the fine agreed upon shall not exceed the amount of the fine established for such infraction or violation. Any person who pays a fine pursuant to this subsection shall also pay any additional fees or costs established for such infraction or violation. Such person shall make such payment to the clerk of the Superior Court and such payment shall be considered a plea of nolo contendere and shall be inadmissible in any proceeding, civil or criminal, to establish the conduct of such person, provided the provisions of this section and section 51-164m shall not affect the application of any administrative sanctions by either the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection authorized under title 26 or the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles authorized under title 14. A plea of nolo contendere pursuant to this subsection does not have to be submitted in writing. Nothing in this subsection shall affect the right of a person who is alleged to have committed an infraction or any violation specified in subsection (b) of this section to plead not guilty and request a trial before a judicial authority.

(h) In any trial for the alleged commission of an infraction, the practice, procedure, rules of evidence and burden of proof applicable in criminal proceedings shall apply. Any person found guilty at the trial or upon a plea shall be guilty of the commission of an infraction and shall be fined not less than thirty-five dollars or more than ninety dollars or, if the infraction is for a violation of any provision of title 14, not less than fifty dollars or more than ninety dollars.

(i) In any trial for the alleged commission of a violation specified in subsection (b) of this section, the practice, procedure, rules of evidence and burden of proof applicable in criminal proceedings shall apply, except that in any trial for the alleged commission of a violation under subsection (a) of section 21a-279a, the burden of proof shall be by the preponderance of the evidence. Any person found guilty at the trial or upon a plea shall be guilty of the commission of a violation and shall be fined not more than the statutory amount applicable to such violation.

STEVEN TOMEO, ESQ.

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